BRUCE LEASK – Sandwick Gardens, Drury AUCKLAND
We lucked out late in September when we went to visit Bruce at his property in Drury, Sandwick Gardens.
After days of rain and boggy weather the sun finally showed its face and we started to get a feel for the summer months ahead.
Driving down the long tree-lined lane to his nursery you are greeted with four growing houses that appear to be part of the landscape. Two covered in plastic sheeting and two with the traditional glass panes.
High winds that ripped through Auckland in March 2017 did some damage to his houses, taking panes of glass and sheets of plastic on a wild and chaotic ride. Bruce has been gradually fixing his houses but being a small grower his priority has been getting flowers to market.
Luckily, he grows very resilient varieties of flowers and foliage who don’t mind a bit of extra breeze now and then!
Sandwick Gardens produces Snapdragons, Statice, Sunflowers, Ruscus and various foliage lines throughout the year.
Have a read through our 'interview with a grower' Q&A session below to learn more about Bruce and his business:
1) What year was your business founded?
2) Have flowers always been your primary crop?
Yes - nothing but flowers!
3) Is it a family run business? If so who are the family members involved?
Sandwick Gardens is a family-owned business but I am the only one involved now. The kids used to help at times!
4) How do you grow your product lines? (under glass? In trays? Etc)
Majority are grown under glass or plastic. I grow in pumice in raised beds lined in plastic.
5) How to you pick/process your product lines?
Snapdragons are picked when 5-7 flowers have opened, placed on 'picking strings' and then collected by the next employee. They are then taken to the pack house to have their leaves stripped, bunched/sleeved and into buckets of water for the market.
6) Tell us what you love about growing flowers for the NZ market.
The primary reason I love growing flowers for the NZ market is that flowers are a product that look great when grown properly and bring so much joy/appreciation to the end user/recipient.
7) How many stems per season do you produce in each of your product lines?
No idea! I'm still in the equation of trying to get the utmost out of the crop and improve on last-year. In my case its judged based on income increase.
8) How do you keep up with the trends in the market?
I try to talk to as many wholesalers as possible every season. They can give me a good idea about what colours will be trending etc.
9) How many staff does it take to keep your business running?
I personally work on my business full-time, then I have one other full-time staff member and one part-timer who works approximately 20hours/week.
10) What makes NZ Grown Products superior to the rest?
11) Explain more about the plant propagation side of your business please
I don’t do any! Plants are purchased ready to go into the ground.